Jatinga was first inhabited by the Zeme Nagas in 1890 under the discretionof the Dimasa king who was the sovereign ruler. They were the first to witness the mysterywhen their camp fires attracted the birds. This frightened them as they believed that thebirds were evil spirits swooping down from the sky. Eventually they deserted thesettlement. The Jaintias, who moved in, in the year 1905 under their leader LakhanbangSuchiang, tumbled upon the mystery while venturing into the valley at night with lightedtorches to round up stray cattle. The bamboo torches attracted showers of birds which theJaintias regarded as a "gift of God".
The first mention of thismystery is found in the Wild Life of India (1957) by the British tea planter andorinthologist E.P. Gee. "The whole thing is extraordinary" Gee wrote. He notedthat the bird death took place only at this spot. Even when lights were put up in nearbyplaces, the phenomenon did not occur. He also noted that some conditions are necessary for the phenomenon to take place.